Alex Fitzgerald, professional poker player and one of the most sought after MTT coaches in the world, visited Flop Turn River’s forums on Monday, June 1, 2015, for an Ask Me Anything event! During his AMA, Fitzgerald shared his thoughts about American politics, the future of online poker and how he approaches the game in both live and online formats.
Fitzgerald is clearly one of poker’s brightest stars, having final tabled events in the EPT, FTOP, WCOOP, SCOOP and “pretty much every major you can name online, save for the Warm-Up,” and he’s eager to continue to share his base of knowledge with students around the globe. Read the summary below to hear how you can access his reasonably priced, game changing lessons and learn what he thinks about the socioeconomic structure in America…and over at PokerStars!
Click here to view Fitzgerald’s AMA thread! His responses are so thoughtful and thorough, it’s definitely worth the read!
Learn more about Alex Fitzgerald:
Battle Rap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6L8UCPorfOo
Thanks for doing this AMA! Just a couple of questions for you:
1) What advice (if any) do you find yourself giving people time and time again, but people just don’t seem to take it on board?
2) With regards to your own game, how has it changed over the years?
3) Where do you see online poker in 2 years time?
1. I find the advice I give most frequently is to treat poker like a business. You can go very far in this game if you have a real work ethic and you budget your time wisely. Many people ask me how I’ve done so well in this game. It’s not because I’m smarter than many other people, but I am more disciplined. When I structured my hours well when I was younger I made a significant amount of money. When I decided I was some “balla” who could do whatever he wanted I went through a large amount of money very quickly. Once I committed to 8:00 to 6:00 hours again I flourished. It’s not brain surgery. You’re playing a mind sport, so you should keep your mind healthy; that means no boozing, doing drugs, or screwing up your sleep schedule every night. Hard work and deliberate practice will outdo talent practically every time.
2. My own game has changed greatly over the years, but sometimes it’s cyclical. For a while rejams were what you worked on, because everyone opened to 2.5X to 3X, so you gained a lot of money by rejamming. Once everyone went to respecting 2Xes the game became more about raise/folding. Also, the game used to be very much about fourbet jamming because people’s threebet sizings were large. Then it became about flatting once people made their threebets smaller. Then when everyone learned to flat you had to threebet more, because they were misplaying.
It really is about staying ahead, studying, never stop working.
3) I think in two years the game will not be much tougher than it is now. Everyone keeps saying the games are tougher. There’s trends. There’s much more variance because people are better, but if you stay ahead of trends you will do fine.
Hi Alex,where do you see yourself in five years ?
Likely playing poker a little less. I love poker but I’ve been in this business for a decade now, so my desire isn’t to play every single day again. I’d like to move into other income streams. I’m really excited with the possibilities of self-publishing
Do you feel that orange rhymes with door hinge?
That’s not a perfect rhyme or exact rhyme (there’s different terminology). But if your flow is right you can use it. Which is to say, I can’t.
Thanks for taking the time to visit our site and answer our member’s questions!
1.What is/are the most common issue(s) you see players make transitioning from cash games to tournaments?
2.How has twitch changed the game for you? What are the pros/cons of live streaming while playing?
3.Do you prefer online or live play? What adjustments are necessary playing live rather than online?
No problem, pleasure to be here 🙂
1) Cash game players go for the kill too much. In tournaments there is great equity in being even in a slight chip advantage. If you risk that for a so-so payoff you will have risked too much. There is a reason Phil Ivey doesn’t have a Hold’em bracelet. Phil Hellmuth thinks of a tournament as a business. There is much more to the game than an immediate chip EV payoff. What is his position going to be if each play mucks itself up?
The lion’s share of the money is in the final three spots. It doesn’t matter how many chips you have when you get there. Poker tournaments are about deriving value from as many hands as possible, not deriving the most. If you have 422 hands you can see in a tournament but you off yourself by going for a thin value on hand 88, you just forfeited the rest of the hands.
2) I honestly can’t choose. I think you need to balance. It’s fun to play live the first week or so because it’s a change of pace, but then I start wanting things to go faster, and for their to be less BS timebanking. Once I’m home however sometimes I miss being able to focus on one larger table at a time, as opposed to having the distractions of home bothering me.
With live you have to do much more estimating. Online you can have a diagnosis of a players game for five years. Live you have to really feel out how the guy is playing that day. You need some base line ranges to work with. If he opens X that means he’s playing at least Y% and you can do Z. If you don’t have these pressure points memorized you’re leaving money on the table.
What’s is your best poker accomplishment in your eyes?
Why did you choose to move to Costa Rica?
Not having to work for someone else since I was 18 is my greatest poker accomplishment.
I moved to Costa Rica initially to house my horses, because we found out with am very small amount of money per month we could have private cooks, maids, and a large home with a private beach. Once I came down here I realized it wasn’t as cheap as I first thought, and my horses were no longer producing the amount of money which would have warranted such expenditures. By that time I had met my wife and I’d moved to San Jose. I liked the city’s rhythm, how anything could happen. I also liked how you’re no more than an hour away from a big city, a rainforest, the mountains, and the beach. You also get first-world accommodations here for much cheaper than you would in the fleece-you-for-every-dollar-you-can Capitalist States Of America
Hey, what do you believe is the most effective way of studying the game? And how do you approach study yourself?
The brief answer is to find something that comes up all the time, such as opening or threebetting or c-betting. Whenever I hear guys yukking it up about a thin river spot for three hours I know I’m being surrounded by dumb asses, because it is a complete waste of time unless you really enjoy the process (which many of these guys claim they don’t). If you’re never going to see the spot again then it’s worthless to navigate it so thoroughly. Learn more than anyone about what cards to barrel, for one. Learn more about threebetting light than anyone. Do it frequently. Learn. Reach for something just out of your reach, collect the data, analyze, and re-initialize. Never autopilot.
I have a series on Cardrunners actually called How To Study where we spend hours on these topics with Powerpoint slides, CREV tutorials, Flopzilla readouts, and hand histories. You can sign up with promo code FREEMONTH to get 80% off. If your account is expired write support with FREEMONTH in the title.
Who do you think will win the presidential election in 2016?
Who do you think will win the NHL Finals this year? What about the NBA finals? What about the WSOP ME?
What are your thoughts re the FIFA scandal?
We’re screwed no matter who wins. The government’s too damned big to control, and neither party wants to do anything to remedy that.
I don’t follow hockey.
It’s fitting the USA only pays attention to football when they can get a payday out of it.
Is it ever appropriate to fold pocket aces pre-flop other than when you’re on the bubble? Would you play them if they were your hole cards in the first hand of the WSOP ME if you were the last one to act and everyone before you went all in?
First hand I would play. I think there’s actually a time you can fold, if everybody at the main event final table goes in. It’s obviously more +EV to call but not as much as you think, since you guaranteed to move up a ton in real money if you fold (assuming even chip stacks). But I of course would call.
What events are you going to play in in this year’s WSOP? Who’s your odds on favorite to win the ME?
I’m playing Venetian 1Ks, the WSOP Main, and if I somehow don’t win the biggest tournament of the year I will play the Bellagio Cup and the Venetian 5k
Which do you get the most satisfaction from, winning yourself or seeing one of your students do really well in a tournament?
I feel more satisfaction when I do well, because I play the highest stakes tournaments, and I know how hard it is to win these days. My students are playing lower stakes and if they don’t know exactly what to expect then I didn’t prepare them well enough.
Have you ever had a student who you knew would just never “get it” in the context of poker and, possibly, life? What did you do, if anything, to coach that person?
Never. People have different ways of learning. That’s it. Sometimes I have had people not understand the nuances, so I have to train them up when it comes to rote memorization. Many times however you can find a way to teach someone if you find out a little more about where they’re from, how they got into the game.
I have had people I felt “didn’t get life” so to speak. They usually treated myself or one of my employees harshly or dishonestly. In those cases I have ceased contact immediately and refunded their money.
Hi Alex 🙂
– What is your thoughts on mobile poker? Do you consider it a valid option for the poker player that takes its game serious? or more of a hobby/ pasttime activity?
– I like the expression ” self-made professional poker player”. What do you think was your best element to persist and envolve in the game?
I really know nothing about the mobile options or how it works so I don’t feel I’m qualified to comment.
My best element to evolve and persist was I didn’t have anything else. I couldn’t call up my folks and go “yeah, I know I cut class and never showed up and blew the tuition money, but hey, this poker thing is actually kind of tough. Could you put me back in school and buy me some new furniture for my dorm? Yeah, I spent your last loan on pot, my bad.”
I support my family; so there’d be nothing to come home to if I failed in this venture. People get real smart real quick when their own ass in on the line.
Hello Alex … welcome to the forum 🙂
What are your main goals for this year still?
Any ideia where to spend your vacations this summer?
Best advice you can give to someone who is just starting now but already winning a lot of tournaments with friends and online? I notice I “master” the art of bluffing quite well. Any other element I should study first in order to make me a bit stronger? Thanks 🙂
My goals for this year are to do two more rap battles, self-publish two books, pay off a certain percentage of my house, get my mother in a house here in Costa Rica, and to keep playing the best poker I can play.
For vacations I generally just go to the beach for a couple days without my cell phone. Does the trick. I don’t need more than that. I’ll probably celebrate with a longer trip to some far off locale here soon.
My advice to you would be to save your money, invest in your poker education, keep your buy-ins low, and play a lot.
– Tell us about your nick Assassinato. 🙂
– Imagine you’re on a 6 max table with:
»» Phil Ivey
»» Phil Hellmuth
»» Daniel Negreanu
»» Liv Boeree
»» Chris Moneymaker
In a sentence, describe each one as a poker player, of course. 🙂
Thank you for your time!
My father lives in Brazil. I heard the word there. It means murder. I thought it was cool. I didn’t know it’d be a marketing tool, but I did know at 17 it’d be better to not have a name that had a ton of numbers. Market wise it’s a great name because it translates somewhat to English, Spanish, Italian, and of course Portuguese.
Hi Alex 🙂
Could you tell us who were your major influences when you decided to be a professional poker player?
If you were to describe yourself as a poker player with only 3 words, which words would you pick?
All the best Alex 🙂
My major influences were of course the big names when I started, but really one article had the most profound effect on me – it was an American in 2005 talking about how he could live anywhere because he played online poker. That caused me to get good enough so I could travel to places I never thought I’d get to live in, like Seoul, Malta, and Costa Rica.
The hardest worker.
What can one expect by hiring you as a poker coach? Do you accept people at every skill level?
As far as I know, there is no one on Earth who has watched as many tournament hand histories as I have. I have 1,000+ private students currently and am getting new ones each day. I have worked with hundreds of other MTTers. I am the top consultant online for backing houses. Top ten Pocketfivers, WSOP Main Event stars, and numerous Triple Crown winners have come out of my coaching services.
I do not just watch your hand history, show you some flashy plays you could have made, and call it a day. I grew tired of saying the same things every lesson, so I wrote articles and Powerpoints to help illustrate my points. I provide these learning materials free of charge, introduce them to you, and answer any follow-up questions you have in your next lesson. This way, for every one hour you speak to me, you are actually getting several hours of instruction. My students are improving rapidly through this process.
Recently two of my students won Triple Crowns. One made over $200,000+ in a week. Both said it wouldn’t have been possible without my training.
In my studies of tournament Hold’em I have made conclusions that are very different from common MTT wisdom you would learn at a training site. However, no one in my vast network of students and colleagues has been able to dispute my claims. I will share these findings with you privately, but I ask you do your best to keep them private.
The theoretical and mathematical knowledge of the game allows me to solve any hand you can bring to me. For this reason many top players and beginners alike bring their hand histories to me to receive my analysis.
Others, who want a more classroom style lesson, enlist my help for lectures. I have verbal lectures available for mindset training that two of the top MTT stables in the world have used for all of their hundreds of players. I have Powerpoints designed to teach you how to blind steal more effectively than anyone in the game, threebet correctly, and bluff like the best players. I also have lectures prepared on checkraising and raising continuation bets that are extremely powerful in the right person’s hands.
You can also know that my strategy works in the field. If my teaching style was not profitable the best players in the game would not come to me. I’d also have 350+ people writing me angry emails about all the money they’ve lost. Instead, I get emails every day about the money they are winning.
I also have done very well on my own with my methods. I am a large lifetime winner in SNGs, MTTs, and cash games. I have final tabled an EPT, WCOOP, FTOPs, $5,000 live events, and every Sunday major at least once. I also have a WCOOP win in my resume. The way I handle myself in pressure situations has garnered me praise from players such as Faraz Jaka and Jason Mercier. The experience I bring to the table from these live finishes distinguishes me from many of the working coaches there are today.
Finally, I am the most requested MTT coach working today is because of my price. I charge $180 an hour maximum so any serious player at any level can receive my tutelage. I genuinely enjoy coaching, and I price my lessons so that I can be coaching as much as possible. My colleagues have told me I am a fool to not make them at least $300 an hour, but I am in this business for the long run.
I love to teach. I do not do this once in a while. This is my regular job. I pride myself at being the best money can buy. I take your personal development personally. You will feel like it was the best money you ever spend on your game, I promise.
Students of mine also receive full access to my personal writing, lectures, and articles. Just reading through all of them will be akin to receiving 20 hours of private coaching.
Package deals are no longer available, but after three lessons have been purchased the price is reduced from $210.00 per hour to $180.00
Backing stables can contact me about planning to do a number of lessons for a price lower than these mentioned.
All lesson requests and inquiries should be emailed to Assassinatocoaching@gmail.com .
I dont really know much about you (sorry haha) so am interested in hearing a bit about your poker story. When did you get started and how did you get to the level you’re at now?
Do you think youll still be playing poker in 5 or 10 years? If yes, why? and if not what do you think youll be doing?
I started playing in my school halls at 15. During high school I left my home to live in a garage with no heating or plumbing on Casino Road, in Everett. I worked as a commercial fisherman, a landscaper, and a carpet mover. I worked at an Arby’s. I was a security guard. I played poker constantly, because I didn’t really have many other options. I went pro in 2006, right before I turned 19. Since then I’ve final tabled EPTs, FTOPs, WCOOPs, SCOOPs, and pretty much every major you can name online, save for the Warm-Up. I’ve lived in Seoul, Malta, and Costa Rica.
I will likely always play poker in some form or another but I have other interests, and I’d like to explore them more once I’ve put away enough money in savings. I love hip hop and being in that scene. If I could even help with just production or putting on shows I’d be content. I write fiction and nonfiction, and I love it. I’ve done metal vocals for different bands. I like to travel and blog about it. Life’s a party man. I don’t want to stay talking to the same two people and eating from the same dish. There’s a lot out there.
Thanks for doing this AMA, just a few questions for you:
1) Is there anyone you look to for poker advice when you’re in need of a second opinion?
2) What is Costa Rica like to visit?
3) Where is your favourite place to play poker?
1) I talk to Apestyles, Faraz Jaka, and NeverscaredB the most
2) Costa Rica is incredible. Beach, rainforest, mountains, crazy city, we got it all. Just remember to be polite, smile often, at least try to speak Spanish, and to not be stupid and walk somewhere you shouldn’t go.
3) I really loved playing in Seoul, although I couldn’t say why. That city is nuts. You feel like anything can happen.
Hi, Alex. Welcome to FTR.
1) What sites do you play at besides PokerStars? I realize that Stars beats every other site, hands-down, in traffic and the number of tournaments offered. Yet I have heard that some other sites (PartyPoker, 888) feature softer fields particularly in their Sunday major events.
2) Do you like deepstack tournaments? Does the additional EV of having guys throw stacks around willy-nilly in the first few levels of the event make up for the fact that they tend to last several hours longer than standard-stacked tourneys?
3) Do you have any ideas for a live tournament structure that you would like to see that hasn’t been offered or is only offered rarely? Conversely are there any types of live tournament formats that you dislike or feel they have become too common?
1) Stars is horrible. They are socialists. They want everybody to get their buy-in back and a slap on the ass. They know if a significant amount of money is removed from the poker community it hurts their bottom line, so tournament structures and payouts are designed so talent is not rewarded exorbitantly.
I’ve made most of my money from other sites. I play on Stars because I have to, not because I want. America’s Cardroom has great structures. 888 is soft but has garbage structures. iPoker isn’t as soft but has good structures. The .FR sites have some good deals.
2) I love deep stacked tournaments, although I’d rather have it be deep stacked at the final two tables, as opposed to early. Venetian deepstacks for example often are not that great at the end. But yes, I love how desperate people get after some hours.
3) I love Win The Button tournaments and 4-Max but you don’t see them often. I think the standard crap structure NLH event is too prolific, even at the WSOP for some higher buy-ins.
What are your favorite concepts in HOH II?
Epic “Ask Me Anything” segment, Alex! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to our members’ questions & feedback.
I’ve probably watched the entire Battle Rap vs. Plan Nein 5 times and have also seen you break-out into versing during some of your stream sessions.
1. Are there a couple of personalities who were very influential in developing a style that works for you during battles?
2. How would you define the battle rap community overall? Is it a tight-knit community with a few veterans who mentor a small amount of incoming talent or is it a quickly-growing activity with a large amount of talent becoming interested all the time?
3. How would you rate Eminem on a scale of 1-10? Strengths? Weaknesses?
Thanks as always and best of luck with all the projects currently on your plate as well as in Vegas!
Lol, I’m glad you enjoyed the battle man! I hope we have some new ones coming out. I was pressed for time with the Nein battle, and thought some of the material was weak, so I’m really grateful for the positive response it’s gotten. Stay tuned, we’re going to have more battles coming out.
1. You know it’s hard to say because I’m kind of on my own in battle rap. Most of the guys come from pretty tough surroundings, and while I did at the beginning I’ve obviously become rich whitey by now. I’m trying to do it my own way, by telling kids it pays to educate yourself. For the next battle I’m going to incorporate more technical components as opposed to just going for easy-to-remember shock humor, because I want to show kids everything’s a discipline, no matter how hard it seems at first.
Osa was an influence; he’s a lawyer in Canada who battle raps. The Saurus is a big influences because he’s willing to work with anybody, and he’s down to learn. Soul was a professional poker player from Scotland who is now the British champion. His approach to learning the craft is really inspiring.
2. My contact with the battle rap community has been limited but man, if you thought poker players were hilarious – some of these guys are like WWE actors who become their personas. And 99% of them don’t get paid anything, even though they’re viewed millions of times online and are known around the world.
Most of the veterans are really cool in real life and just want to work and get paid. They’re actually really polite and friends with each other. When they get on cameras they know it’s just for the show.
3. Lol. If you break down what rap is, as far techniques: Couplets, multis, schemes…there’s no better writer than Eminem. And when he’s on the beat his technicality is impossible to deny. Most guys are just trying to stay on beat. You can tell since he was 12 he’s been on one. He laces around the bumps like they’re his friends. He just glides with tempo shifts, live and in the studio. If you ever hear another rapper get on one of his beats it’s just sad, like a kid trying to drive Mario Andretti’s.
His weakness is he’s hiding from the new battle culture, where he’d stand to make millions! 😛
Thank you to everyone for having me. Shout out to David Huber for always making it happen. God bless y’all. See you out in Vegas 🙂